Catheter - Uses


Placement of a catheter into a particular part of the body may allow:

  • draining urine from the urinary bladder as in urinary catheterization, e.g., the intermittent catheters or Foley catheter or even when the urethra is damaged as in suprapubic catheterisation.
  • drainage of urine from the kidney by percutaneous (through the skin) nephrostomy
  • drainage of fluid collections, e.g. an abdominal abscess
  • administration of intravenous fluids, medication or parenteral nutrition with a peripheral venous catheter
  • angioplasty, angiography, balloon septostomy, balloon sinuplasty, cardiac electrophysiology testing, catheter ablation. Often the Seldinger technique is used.
  • direct measurement of blood pressure in an artery or vein
  • direct measurement of intracranial pressure
  • administration of anaesthetic medication into the epidural space, the subarachnoid space, or around a major nerve bundle such as the brachial plexus
  • administration of oxygen, volatile anesthetic agents, and other breathing gases into the lungs using a tracheal tube
  • subcutaneous administration of insulin or other medications, with the use of an infusion set and insulin pump
  • A central venous catheter is a conduit for giving drugs or fluids into a large-bore catheter positioned either in a vein near the heart or just inside the atrium.
  • A Swan-Ganz catheter is a special type of catheter placed into the pulmonary artery for measuring pressures in the heart.
  • An embryo transfer catheter is designed to insert fertilized embryos from in vitro fertilization into the uterus. They may vary in length from approximately 150 mm to 190 mm.
  • An umbilical line is a catheter used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) providing quick access to the central circulation of premature infants.
  • A Tuohy-Borst adapter is a medical device used for attaching catheters to various other devices.
  • A Quinton catheter is a double or triple lumen, external catheter used for hemodialysis.
  • An intrauterine catheter, such as a device known as a 'tom cat', may be used to insert specially 'washed' sperm directly into the uterus in artificial insemination. A physician is required to administer this procedure.

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